Ragnar Axelsson, a.k.a. RAX, is among the most celebrated photographers in the world. His series “Faces of the North” are a living document of the dying cultures of the far northern reaches of the planet.
RAX was partly raised on an isolated farm on the southern coast of Iceland, where he and the farmers, five brothers, and two sisters, lived off of the land as countless generations had before them. As a child he was enraptured by the terrain and the interactions between man and nature.
“Faces of the North” has been RAX’s passion for the past 25 years. In 2004, he published a book of photos by the same name depicting vanishing lifestyles in the North Atlantic. “It was really only one photograph that started me off,” he says. “An old man in a rowing boat and his dog on a skerry. I thought to myself, these men are vanishing. If I don’t photograph them now, no one will remember them and no one will know that they ever existed.”
Now RAX is looking to capture the last images of his series, tracking hunters on the Arctic ice. He could well have been a hunter himself — he stalks his images and strikes in the opportune moment. Fascinated by stories of half-forgotten people such as the Inuit who have adapted to unspeakably harsh conditions, RAX is now documenting them as they cope with extreme changes to those conditions as the result of climate change.
A celebration of the photographer and his subjects, Last Days of the Arctic is an elegy for a disappearing landscape and the people who inhabit it.